Wimbledon’s mad Monday – Pom’s great white hope and our Delta Scud go
to war as Lleyton tackles a Spaniard. Patrick Fitzgerald explains.

Either late tonight or tomorrow morning Australian TV viewers
can stock up on the No Dose or whatever gets you through the night,
because who wants to miss ‘Little’ Lleyton heading towards an eventual
showdown with Roger Federer, but even better our Poo going head to head
with Britain’s great white hype Tim Henman.

In a TV
schedule that does us no favours and puts Henman right in the thick of
the late London afternoon-early evening prime time action for those
racing home from work around the nation to see the Poo try to pluck the
Hen as the third and final scheduled centre court game. Hewitt fills
the preceding slot against Spain’s Carlos Moya to ensure a huge night
of Grand Slam action for all willing Nine network night owls.

Of
course the battling Brit’ Henman, who is fonder of grass in June than
any other living Englishman, can rely on all England bothering to
follow the tennis at the All-England club whenever he steps out on the
court during Wimbledon. Not having a male Wimbledon champion since they
roughly started talking in movies has been something of a cultural and
sporting albatross for as long as tennis fans in the UK care to
remember. And for that Australia can take an awful lot of the blame;
and maybe even more after tonight as yet again “Henmania” takes root at
the world’s biggest Grand Slam.

More intriguingly this
“Ashes” fourth round clash features two pretty talented players who
have made a career of promising great things but more often than not
flatter to deceive. Last year Mark Philippoussis made his first
Wimbledon final but was something of a damp scud as he was taken apart
by the Swiss master craftsman Roger Federer. The same champ now looking
odds-on to mix it up in a possible semi-final meeting with “little’
Lleyton, if our other wham bam thank you man can get past his own
nemesis tonight. He meets Carlos Moya in a fourth round clash that
promises Nine TV viewers a veritable backcourt blitz and could run and
run if this goes five sets. Penalty shoot outs might have nothing on
this pair.

But while Moya and Hewitt should be an all
guns blazing affair, it’s the more delicate serve and volley artistry
of Henman and the Poo, that promises the most anticipated courtside
dramas tonight – although Philippoussis will also throw his power game
into the mix as required. But here’s a sight to moisten even the most
leaden Aussie TV eyes tonight as we battle to turn a dead ear to
‘Fiery’ and ‘Newk’ who continue to be the most anachronistic commentary
team in tennis these days. It’s up to the Poo to send a whole country
into remission as it suffers yet another ritual bout of Henman Post
Traumatic Stress as the Tim Flam man sees yet another stab at Wimbledon
final glory ripped from his grasp.

SCUD READY FOR PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE

Who
better to blow apart his 2004 campaign than the Scud who entered
Wimbledon looking more like a contented love bird than a Wimbledon
hitman? But if he chokes the Hen tonight, he not only gets to avoid
Federer or even his little Aussie battler mate before the final, but
could go one better if his planets finally all come into confluence and
Delta send him into battle with those words “born to try” loudly
ringing in his ears.

Henman given he’s on the right side
of the draw but playing a pumped up Aussie who is also loves his grass,
will feel the Greek gods conspired against him if he fails yet again.
Which is why although only a fourth round tie, this battle is worthy of
at least a semi-final and more than enough reason for a million and
more Aussies to stay up real late tonight.

Philippoussis
has all the weapons to inspire more Wimbledon flagellation by the media
who find their Tim is wanting yet again. Let’s face it if the euphoria
that greeted England winning the Rugby World Cup was anything to go by,
if the Hen can get keep his batteries charged all the way to win the
big one – what do they do with him? Perhaps make him King and solve the
succession problem posed by that other perennial disappointment?

As
for Henman he seems to have it figured at to what it takes to flush the
Poo from Wimbledon, so let’s see how his deeds match his game plan?

“He
(Philippoussis) is going to hit his first serve pretty hard and serve
and volley, then he’s going to hit his second serve pretty hard and
he’s going to serve and volley. So what do I do? I’m going to try to
make him play as many volleys as I can and if I get second shots, I am
going to try and hit passing shots.” Nothing to it Tim hey what!

WARNING – RELATIVES OF ‘FIERY’ AND ‘NEWK’ SHOULDN’T READ THIS

While
the now well-behaved maturing Lleyton continues to have John Newcombe
and Fred Stolle all misty eyed in the commentary box, hopefully he can
overcome their extreme bias to really have all the right weapons in
those huge kits bags he drag around with him to disarm Moya. Should
both our pocket rocket and the Scud prevail, it will make for one long
and very memorable night for the colonials not only in that little
south-west corner of London, but a lot of us who will also be feeling
no pain at home. Pass the coffee!

For an insight into how
the English media thinks “our Tim” is the bee knees – surely the
following comments on the BBC sports website tell us all we need to
know about a man who has clearly been a hugely dominating player for
the past decade while plying his awesome talent around the world and
winning Grand Slams almost at random!

WHY THE BBC BELIEVES TIM HENMAN IS UNBEATABLE AT THE NET?

Here’s what the BBC thinks of Master Henman’s net tactics.

“Just
about all the experts agree that Tim Henman plays the net better than
any other player in the world. Technically his volley is superb, his
touch and feel for the ball is unrivalled and his reactions and
athleticism are awesome. But if you want to achieve quick improvements
in your results at the net then it’s Henman’s tactical understanding
that you should look to.”

Blimey – or should that be crikey, the poor old Poo might as well pack it in now!

Monday Order of play on Centre Court – 13:00 start GMT (AEST 22.00)

L. DA’PORT U.S. (5) v V. ZVON’VA Russia (12) Womens
C. MOYA Sp 9 v L. HEWITT Aus 7 Mens
T. HENMAN GB 5 v M. PHILIPPOUSSIS Aus 11 Mens

Don’t
hold Crikey to this given matches can be over in no time or run to
marathon length (Hewitt v Moya anyone) – but if you allowed for the
opening women’s game finishing by around 11.30 our time you should
expect to see Hewitt playing anywhere from about 23.30 to around
midnight, and on a rough guess of minimum of two hours and in excess of
three hours and more – the Henman game may not get on court

Peter Fray

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